Author: hudunipress

Open access monographs are increasing the dissemination of documentary film research

Open access monographs are increasing the dissemination of documentary film research

As part of our blog series for Open Access Week 2018, we caught up with Geoffrey Cox, Editor of Soundings: documentary film and the listening experience, to chat about OA monograph publishing is changing the way documentary film research is discovered and read.

Documentary film research

The sharing of knowledge and discoveries is a fundamental of all scholarly research and especially so when it involves the illumination of practice, since it then can have an effect on the practice itself. Documentary film research involves those studying the medium as well as those involved in the making of non-fiction films, with the notion of practice-as-research sitting at the heart of the continuum between the two. Unlike fiction film, this has been true from the beginning of the form in the late 1920s, since the ethical dimension of documentary has always required philosophical thought by the filmmakers themselves. This is evidenced by numerous scholarly articles and books written from the outset by the likes of John Grierson (‘Father’ of the documentary), Basil Wright, Paul Rotha (all filmmakers) and numerous others in journals such as Cinema Quarterly and Sight and Sound in the 1930s. The issue of sound and music in documentary was and remains a key concern, since the development of documentary crossed over with sound’s introduction and early development, and so became bound up with the central concern of documentary of ‘truthful’ representations of the real world.

How does open access publishing impact filmmakers?

These ruminations in written form had a profound impact on what the filmmakers did as they developed different approaches to documentary style and elucidated different aims. Though commercial documentary practice today takes less obvious account of such thinking due to its more directly commercial and educative nature (especially on mainstream television), and the fact that the principles elucidated early on are still in play and naturally drawn on, this still remains very much true in more experimental forms (especially in cinema) and amongst those wishing to revisit and expand on those early forms. The issue of open access is therefore important as the dissemination of scholarly writing, whether from researchers or filmmakers has a direct impact on documentary practice. The intertwining of scholarly thought and practice is still a crucial dimension of documentary film so the availability of such writing to those outside of academia is very important since the cost of non-open access materials can be prohibitively high.

How can open access monographs increase dissemination?

I am both a documentary filmmaker and scholar of the medium, and coming from a music composition background, I have a keen focus on sound and music in documentary. I ran a conference at the University of Huddersfield in 2017 on documentary sound and this lead to the idea of an edited collection on the topic. Dedicated collections on sound and music in fiction film are numerous but rare on documentary so the idea seemed especially prescient. Given the importance of access and dissemination described above, the policy of Huddersfield University Press to offer free download versions of their publications was a key reason for approaching the press in the first place and I am glad to say that since publication in July 2018, the book has already had over 800 downloads. The book has therefore almost certainly been far more widely disseminated than would have been the case for any paid version.

Open access publishing in pharmaceutical research

Open access publishing in pharmaceutical research

As part of our blog series for Open Access Week 2018, we caught up with Hamid Merchant, Editor of the British Journal of Pharmacy, to chat about how important and revolutionary OA publishing can be in the sciences.

A fantastic piece of research can only be appreciated fully if it can be accessed and read freely across the globe.  Often healthcare issues of developing nations are published in journals which are far beyond the reach of those nations, for instance Malaria and HIV. Open access publishing bridges this gap and allows anyone to access recent advances in science and medicine. In recent years, the ability to access scientific literature instantly using portable devices has made research more accessible, and open access publications can dramatically enhance this readership. Moreover, a great proportion of research is funded through research councils, non-governmental and charitable organisations, in other words, from public money; and it is unfair if it is not freely accessible by the public.

Thinking about impact and open access publishing

One of the major obstacles in open access publishing in science, however, is the poor quality and reputation of many open access titles, as many would compromise in quality if authors pay their publication fees. Another major factor is the ‘impact-centred’ research assessment in academia, which drives researchers to steer away from new but reliable open-access journals where a typical impact factor has not yet been established. However, the evolution in impact assessment and emergence of new open-source impact metrics is likely to strengthen and support ‘newer’ open access titles.

BJPharm is a fee-free open-access initiative to support the science and research in pharmacy supported by the University of Huddersfield Press. The fee free model for Open Access publishing is not easy. No income from publication means the journal needs an incredible amount of voluntary support. The success of the BJPharm lies behind the honorary team of editors, peer reviewers, and the invaluable support from the university press. The journal would not have been possible without invaluable contribution from the whole team.

How is open access publishing changing the way we think about research?

How is open access publishing changing the way we think about research?

As part of our blog series for Open Access Week 2018, we caught up with Franc Chamberlain, Editor of Performance and Mindfulness, to chat about how advances in open access publishing are impacting the way we think about research.

The impact of open access outside academia

By making research from a wide range of disciplines available to me, Open Access enables me to broaden and deepen my knowledge not only only in my own field but across other disciplines. But does it do that in a way that is substantially different from the old subscription model? I don’t think that it does because one of the privileges of working within an academic institution has always been access to the latest research via institutional subscriptions to relevant journals. The shift from paper copies of journals to electronic versions improved access, but only within the academic community. Open Access makes this material available to everyone and, as such, is less about making research material available to me and more about improving access for those outside of the academy. I was reminded of this latter point the other day when my partner, a freelance dramatherapist, was writing a report on some work that she’d been doing with a client and wanted to access an article that examined a particular issue that had arisen. The article wasn’t available through Open Access and it was going to cost her $35 just to be able to read it online. The result was that she submitted her report without being able to examine the research findings presented in the paper and without being able to discuss whether her own work supported, contradicted, or extended them. In this case, and in many others, the inability to access research publications lessens the quality of the debate within the public sphere. 

Has open access had an effect on my attitude towards my research?

Do I behave differently as a result of OA? When I first started publishing in academic journals I took comfort in the fact that some of the things I wrote would only be viewed by a small number of people. I can imagine that if I was just starting out now that I might be paralysed by the thought that anyone with access to the internet could read my paper rather than a small constituency of like-minded researchers but, on the other hand, if download and citation figures are anything to go by, most papers in my field only have a small readership even now.

Time for a change in mindset?

As I think about it I wonder if I really ought to change something in my attitude towards open access. Most of the things I write are in a reasonably clear and accessible language and, I think, are open to a non-specialist readership but I still publish too much of my text output in books which are not open access. Why is that? I think that I’m holding onto an idea that books and book chapters are more accessible to the general public than journal articles but OA has changed that. I don’t mean that I should give up on books (in whatever format), but that I should pay more attention to whether what I publish should be Open Access. As soon as I ask my self that question, though, I realise how little social media has appeared in my thinking as I have been writing this short piece. The only moment that I remember thinking of it was when I was thinking about the accessibility of my work and I thought about the various social media groups where I share ideas.

Open Access Publishing – a handy infographic guide from the University of Huddersfield Press

Open Access Week 2018 -what does open knowledge mean in education?

Open Access Week 2018 -what does open knowledge mean in education?

As part of our blog series for Open Access Week 2018, we caught up with Professor David Powell, Editor of Teaching in Lifelong Learning, to chat about what this year’s theme, designing equitable foundations for open knowledge, means to him.

This summer, I heard Professor Milena Dragićević Šešić, of the University of Arts, Belgrade, speaking about how ‘academic capitalism’ (Dragićević Šešić 2018) shapes the publishing and reading of our research. The main point Milena made was that her University expected her to publish in highly-rated, prestigious journals, though the irony was that her own students could not access her articles because they were published in fee-paying journals and her University could not afford the subscription. To me, that is shocking; it seems neither fair nor acceptable.

Part of my work as director of the Education and Training Consortium and HUDCETT is to edit the University Press’ Teaching in Lifelong Learning: a journal to inform and improve practice, which is aimed at teachers and trainers from the further education and skills sector and those who research it. The sector is poorly funded compared with schools and universities, and its staff and work are under-researched and thus largely invisible outside the sector. The journal aims to address this by offering new writers an opportunity to publish their work and because we are an open access journal then teachers and trainers from the sector can access this research because it is not locked away behind a subscription. For me, making research freely available is at the heart of socially just education; it’s moral and ethical praxis (Mahon, Kemmis, Francisco, and Lloyd, 2017), levelling the academic playing field, and making knowledge accessible to all. As such, in a small but important way, open access publishing is, in my view, ‘changing, for the better, the world we live and practise in’ (Kemmis, McTaggart, and Nixon, 2014, p.27).


Dragićević Šešić, M., (2018, August) Educational challenges and ethical dilemmas in time of academic capitalism: is “expanded professionalism” a solution for a sustainable and inclusive society? Keynote at Association of Teacher Educators in Europe Annual Conference, Gavle, Sweden,

Kemmis, S., McTaggart, R., and Nixon, R. (2014b) The action research planner: doing critical participatory action research. Dordrecht: Springer.

Mahon, K., Kemmis, S., Francisco, S., Lloyd, A., (2017) Introduction: Practice Theory and the Theory of Practice Architectures. In: Mahon, K., Francisco, S., Kemmis, S., Exploring Education and Professional Practice through the lens of practice architectures. (pp1-30). Singapore: Springer.

You can access Teaching in Lifelong Learning on our website.

Sharing university press practices – our initial findings

Sharing university press practices – our initial findings

At the end of June 2018 we held an event here in Huddersfield which aimed to bring together university presses, or those considering launching a press, to discuss the challenges we face as a community, and hopefully find some useful and innovative ways to share best practices and experiences.

Thank you for coming!

I would first like to thank everyone who attended that day – we had 18 people come, representing 15 different institutions, all of whom brought an amazing amount of experience and knowledge to the sessions that day. It was rewarding to be part of some really engaging and innovative discussions, and you all got really stuck into the different activities we had planned, so thank you.

Also a big thank you to Graham Stone from Jisc, who came to chat about all the work they are doing around developing resources and frameworks for university presses to use when setting up and approaching third parties.

Since then, I have been working (with my colleague Kathrine Jensen), behind the scenes at pulling together all the information we gathered that day, with the aim of collating some themes and potential recommendations that can be used by the university press community.

Initial summary of findings

We have carried out some thematic qualitative analysis of the data gathered from each session, and have grouped our findings into three main categories:

  • Key considerations for a university press launch/development
  • Identifying and building strategic stakeholder relationships
  • Designing and implementing a sustainable publishing process

We are also planning to do some reflection work around the methods used for gathering data in the sessions. We tried out a number of techniques and thought the majority worked really well. We will be sharing some of these experiences in a future piece of research, potentially focusing on our use of the reflection river, based on the Kawa river model.

University press strategy infographic

An additional output of this research is going to be an infographic to visually convey the findings and recommendations mentioned above, in a format which we hope is accessible and highly shareable via social media and other online networks.

What comes next?

We have plenty more work to do on writing up our findings and the community recommendation you all came up with under each of these headings, but I wanted to share with you this initial summary to create a chance for your input on where we are so far.

Please do get in touch if you have questions or feedback:

Megan Taylor, University of Huddersfield Press Manager 

Kathrine S.H. Jensen, Independent Researcher,

We hope to have the infographic ready over the next month, but in the meantime, if you have any feedback or would like to know more about our progress with this research, please let me know.

New book! Soundings: documentary film and the listening experience

New book! Soundings: documentary film and the listening experience

We are delighted today to announce the publication of our newest book, a beautifully written collection edited by Geoffrey Cox and John Corner:

Soundings: documentary film and the listening experience

Buy the paperback version

Download the open access version

It has been a privilege to work with Geoffrey and John on this fascinating collection of essays, and we asked them to put a few words together about their research and the driving force behind the book.

Geoffrey Cox and John Corner explore the arts of sound, investigating the richness of what we hear as well as what we see in non-fiction films.

We all recognise that sound is important to documentary films, without it we would often have no idea of what we were looking at or of its significance. What is far less recognised is the often complex ways in which our listening becomes interlinked with our viewing so as to generate feelings and ideas well beyond those carried simply in ‘what is said’. This is partly a matter of how documentary producers work to let us hear the world as well as see it, a world of noises, natural, and mechanical and of patterns and textures of speech going well beyond the literal content of commentary or interview. The sonic dimension involves a range of technological and aesthetic creativity in the production process right through from initial recording through to final editing. Often, it importantly involves the use of music in ways which we might be encouraged to register but which will often work powerfully in the background, shaping the kinds of knowledge and pleasure we get from a film without our being consciously aware of it.

A huge range of non-fiction film uses sounds in this way to guide and supplement our visual experience and fill it with feeling. The longstanding practices of film, television and now web advertising show a range of sound designs importantly at work, so too do the even more longstanding techniques of film propaganda. However, many documentary and video makers, rather than reinforce the delivery of a narrow message, have wanted to use the possibilities of different sounds to enrich, make more complex and perhaps even challenge, the sense of reality ‘coming through’.

In our work, drawing on international contributors including film-makers and composers as well as academics, we ask questions about how sounds are recorded and assembled in documentary production, about the variety of the ways in which they work when listened to and about their contribution to making this area of visual culture an important culture of sounds too. Our belief is that further critical attention here goes beyond the expanding area of documentary scholarship and connects with a broader understanding of the contemporary media arts.

Buy the paperback version

Download the open access version